Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot #BlogTour #QandA

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot. My thanks also to Vicky Joss and publisher Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour.


Ooonagh O’Neil is back with another dark and chilling investigation…

‘Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you’

That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…

When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?

Authentic and gritty, Keep Her Silent is a gripping and page-turning thriller that will leave you breathless. Perfect for fans of Susie Steiner, and Karin Slaughter, Patricia Gibney.


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Theresa TalbotTheresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many she will be most familiar as the voice of the station’s Traffic & Travel.

Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She’s much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson.


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Can you tell me a little bit about this novel? Why do we need to pick this one up?

I could be cheeky and say please pick up & buy Keep Her Silent as my roof leaks & I need new shoes! But seriously, Keep Her Silent has been such a labour of love for me. The second in the Oonagh O’Neil series, there are three strands running through the narrative; a cold case going back to the 1970s when three women were murdered by The Raphael Killer, a women incarcerated in a secure unit for the slaying of her husband and son, and the tainted blood scandal, where thousands of patients were infected with Hep C & HIV through contaminated blood products. The tainted blood scandal has been described as the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ (Sir Robert Winston) and although Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, this part of the story is based on real characters and real life events. I’ve worked closely with one of the victims, and his story is one of nightmares. I’m a journalist and although, yes I was aware of the scandal, I had no idea of the actual effect it has had on the victims.

I’m always really fascinated by institutionalised crime, or crime by the establishment, and the fact that few, if any, perpetrators are ever brought to justice. That’s how I feel about the tainted blood scandal. Google it and you’ll be led down a wormhole that beggars belief. I made that the central theme to my book, for me it’s the biggest crime of the 20th century and beyond, yet all committed by the establishment with the backing of the law. Pharmaceutical giants were making millions from these infected blood products, yet they put profit before the suffering of mankind. Threading that through a crime novel seemed natural to me – readers invest in characters and themes in works of fiction that make them sit up and take notice. That said, I was really nervous about the whole thing – I felt such a huge responsibility to everyone affected to get it right. Thankfully, so far, it’s had a very positive response.

This is the second novel in a series. Can it be read as a standalone?

Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but there are obviously references to ‘The Lost Children’, and my characters behave in certain ways because of their past and their experiences. One of my pet hates in any work of fiction (especially soaps) is that something awful, wonderful or earth shattering can happen to a character. They’re then the central storyline for six weeks before it moves on to another plotline and their experience is hardly mentioned. I’ve tried to develop my characters, make them real flesh & blood human beings. They change and grow as time moves on. One of my characters, Tom, has undergone (on the surface) quite a dramatic change, but I felt that that was right thing to do. He’d made a decision in the last book to change his life and follow it through. I’ve got a whole lot of respect for Tom..then I realise he’s not real and I made him up! So although it’s not necessary to read The Lost Children first, it may explain some of the character traits and background, but I was careful to ensure that readers who pick up this as their first taste of my novels won’t be left scratching their heads… unless they just happen to have a random itch!

Who is one of your favourite detectives and why?

No contest, Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Written by Andrea Camilleri, the stories are set in Sicily. He’s decent, honest & hard working … just like all good Sicilian Detectives (!) and operates in a rather murky world – there’s loads of humour too. I watch Young Montalbano on DVD to drool over the scenery and practice my Italian. He’s my favourite this week as I’m heading off to Italy soon – in a few months time when I’m stuck indoors and the rain is battering off my window it might be John Shaft again!

What is your favourite method of murder?

I just read an online post saying a Tupperware lid would be the best ever murder weapon as no-one would ever be able to find it again! I’m wracking my brains here trying to think what my ‘favourite’ method is… I have to say, an old episode of ‘Tales of The Unexpected’ keeps coming back to mind. ‘Lambs to The Slaughter’ was an adaptation of a 1953 short story by Roald Dahl. Mary Marney – played by Susan George – whacks her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb when he announces that he’s leaving her. She calls the police, claiming it was an intruder, and subsequently feeds the murder weapon to the detective who’s all smitten with her. It’s hilarious – and black too. I’m not sure I’d need to go to all that trouble if I wanted to kill someone – I’d just cook the lamb and watch them slowly lose the will to live as they chewed endlessly on a piece of gristle.

What are you reading right now?

I have far too many books on my TBR pile, and I need to be honest I’ve had to take a break from reading as I had so much writing to do it was interfering with my brain! But I’ve just started The Janus Run by Douglas Skelton (I have a review copy – on the shelves by the time you read this) and I have to say this is one bloody great read!

What’s on the cards in the future?

Book 3 in the Ooagh O’Neil series in now underway (if my agent or publisher is reading this then it’s finished and at the final edit stage!) I’ve grown so fond of Oonagh, she’s flawed and troubled and sometimes gets it wrong – but she’ll fight with her last breath to stick up for the underdog. I’m giving Jim McVeigh (detective) a bit more to say and do in this book too.

Thank you Theresa for answering the questions and having me on the blog tour!

Thank you for having me – it’s been such a pleasure xx

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Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan #BlogTour #Guestpost

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan. Sincere thanks also to Kirsty Doole of Corvus Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have already read and reviewed both of the novels Jack Jordan wrote this year so I’m sharing an amazing guestpost with you all today that is very touching but first and foremost let’s start with the book itself:


She can’t see the killer But the killer can see her…

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.

As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?

In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…

Click the links below for my book reviews on all of his books so far :

A Woman Scorned and Before Her Eyes, My Girl and Anything For Her.


Before Her Eyes is available in paperback and ebook (audio coming soon) from Waterstones, WHSmith Travel, Waitrose, and all good bookshops and online outlets, including all major e-retailers

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Agoraphobia kept me prisoner, but ultimately set me free 

Most authors will tell you that they have wanted to be writers ever since they can remember, and have always imagined they would have their own stories on the shelves one day. My start, however, was a little different.

            I loved reading and writing as a child. English was one of my favourite subjects in school. I beamed whenever I had the opportunity to exercise creative writing in class and I’ve always loved reading, even if a little out of my age range (I was once told a book was too mature to bring to school… I can’t even remember what it was. All I knew was: it was a book and I was going to read it). But I never remember thinking that my love of reading and writing meant that I could have a book on the shelf too. I never thought that someone like me, a working class kid, could achieve something so monumental. I had put limitations upon myself from the very beginning: I wouldn’t even allow the idea of writing a book, let alone getting it published, to enter my mind, which stayed that way until one day, many years later, my dream finally clicked… but not without struggles along the way.

            Cut to me, aged seventeen. After moving four hours away from home in a wild, rebellious rush, I returned home utterly broken from a traumatic experience. I came home to feel safe, with no idea that the very same home I craved would become my prison for over a year.

            Anxiety is a powerful, intelligent thing. I’ve had it my entire life. Separation anxiety plagued every goodbye. Sunday nights were hell in my house, as my anxiety exploded from having to face another week of school. But even a lifetime of anxiety could not have prepared me for the debilitating power of agoraphobia and PTSD.

            Overnight, I became a recluse. I existed entirely behind closed doors. I gave windows a wide berth to avoid being seen, flinching whenever someone walked by. I shut myself away if there were visitors in the house, and lost all sense of night and day, sleeping in the day and living at night, which made me feel like I was the only person awake in the entire world, a unique breed of loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. My anxiety was triggered by everything and anything, however irrational they seemed. And then it got so bad that I couldn’t even leave my bedroom.

            I remember when this happened: I had walked down the stairs at the exact same moment the postman delivered our mail, and the shock of it brought on a horrendous panic attack. I collapsed on the stairs and stayed there, hyperventilating with my eyes on the glass in the door, too terrified to move. I stayed there for an hour. Just like that, I was confined to my bedroom, too scared to even look out of my own window.

            One morning, after another sleepless night, I lay in bed filled with unspent energy. Hiding away day and night takes very little physical exertion, and deprives a person of mental stimulation. The energy builds and builds and builds like traffic, and with nowhere to go, it ends up fuelling the anxiety, the very thing that was keeping me hidden in the first place – a never-ending cycle that I felt helpless to stop. So as the sun rose, I wrote a short story to pass the time. It was only a thousand words or so, written in the notes app on my Blackberry. I didn’t think anything of it, it was just something I did for fun, just another idea that had presented itself inside my mind that I had no idea what to do with or felt I had the right to act on. It was just to help me fall asleep.

            Except… when I woke up, I wrote another chapter. And another. And another. I had no idea that I was writing a book, only that I was creating characters who could exist outside of my prison. I was getting the stimulation I craved and a way out of my hell, even if my escape was only imaginary.

            For six months, I lived vicariously through my characters, escaping the confines of my home using my mind, my characters, the power of words, until one day I looked down and realised I had written a novel of one hundred thousand words. Without realising, I had fulfilled the dream I had never allowed myself to fathom. The second I wrote ‘The End’, I knew I was a writer, and that deep down, I had known all along.

            Writing ‘The End’ was only the beginning, but it unlocked a truth from within me, a realisation that might never have occurred, had it not been for my anxiety: I’m a writer. I always have been. All of those ideas that had plagued my mind for years not only had a way of being released, but they had a purpose.

            You’re not reading the words of a university graduate. I never even went to college. I dropped out of school at fourteen because of depression and anxiety (growing up attracted to the same sex is VERY fun, by the way). You’re reading the words of an author whose lifeline was the written word. As my peers moved around the country to study, I taught myself grammar, spelling, punctuation, how to format a novel, how to structure a story, how the whole publishing thing worked, all from the confines of my bedroom. I spent day and night making my dream a reality, and slowly put myself back together again through years of therapy and exposure. Five years later, I went on to publish my debut novel Anything for Her, followed by my second, My Girl, the year after. The two titles sold over one hundred thousand copies.

            So now, at twenty-five, as I prepare myself for the release of my traditional debut, Before Her Eyes, I look back with complete admiration for who I was at seventeen, and for all the strength it took to face and trust the world again, not only as a person, but as a writer, with my past and pain strewn over the pages of my books and dozens of rejections to my name.

Eight years have passed, but I will never forget how I started, and will always feel the same pride, the same overwhelming confirmation that being a writer is who I am, every time I write ‘The End’.

*** Don’t forget to check out the other blog tour stops ***

Before Her Eyes (Blog Tour)

Entrapped by Claire Ayres #BlogTour #Extract

BlogTour Entrapped

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to the first stop on the blog tour for Entrapped by Claire Ayres! My thanks to Jenny of Neverland Blog Tours for the invitation to join and for providing the excerpt I’ll be sharing with you today. A very special thank you as well for all your patience, dedication and in short, being such a wonderful tour organiser, it was great to sign up for tours with you. Now let’s kick off this last book tour!

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Cellist Luka has moved to Bristol to start a new job and recover from the betrayal of finding his best friend and his girlfriend in bed together. He doesn’t plan on the emotional thunderstorm that meeting his next-door neighbour Jess causes. Jess had everything, a man she loved, friends she adored and then the world crashed around her. Depression came from nowhere and slowly started ripping her life away. Now she lives a lonely, sad life but the music which she keeps hearing next door is waking her up and she doesn’t know why. Join Luka and Jess as they discover life after heartache, how to forgive and how to live and love again.

*Entrapped is an 18+ Contemporary Romance with several graphic sex scenes*

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Claire Ayres

Claire lives in Bristol, UK and has taken her inspiration from the people and the places she has seen over the years. She always has a book close at hand and devours Fantasy and Romance like some devour chocolate! Claire loves a happily ever after followed by lots of bloody sword-fighting and dangerous dragons! But when writing her debut novel Entrapped drew on her childhood ambition to be a musician and one of the instruments she played and still loves as a centre-point. Claire is also a passionate mental health advocate who lives with bipolar disorder and has done regular radio interviews and even some TV. She is also a huge heavy metal fan and can regularly be found banging her head at a concert or festival.


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“I went to the doctor.” He squeezes her hand, kisses the corner of my mouth. Jess continues: “She says it’s depression, why I’ve been so off my game, not myself.”

His fingers tense across Jess’ lap and arm where they were previously casually placed, they get so tight she whines and pulls away, feeling the ache of a bruise that has yet to come out. His jaw is clenched, his eyes are tightened to slits. It’s OK though, Jess thinks, she knew this would be a difficult conversation for him, they will work through it together though. She rushes on, needing to reassure him, show him they will be fine.

“I have tablets, they will take a little while to work but then I will be back to myself, it will all be OK.”

Jess squeezes out a smile and runs her hand across his cheek, trying to show him the proof of her words. After a long pause he finally speaks: “What do you mean a little while to work?”

“The doctor said 4-6 weeks,” she responds, stroking his hair.

“Are you having a laugh?” He’s laughing, this is not a funny laugh though, there is absolutely nothing funny about Ade right now from the look on his face to his body language or the way he is touching her. “Jessica, you know what I went through growing up, that I can’t put myself through that again.” He sighs. “I thought this was a passing phase.”

Jess looks at him, holding the tears back in her eyes, determined not to cry. What is he getting at?

“Ade, I’m not your Mum, I’m going to be OK, things will go back to normal,” she pleads.

Ade grew up in an unhappy and abusive home, at the centre of that his Mum had depression. She was also an alcoholic, as a result he doesn’t separate everything very well which is understandable.

“Things won’t be normal, will they? I’ll have another month of all this bullshit? Do you know what it’s been like living with you detached from me for months now?” Jess shrinks back, shaking her head, afraid to speak. “It’s awful and it’s miserable. And sex, well I can swing from the chandelier for that, can’t I?”

Jess gapes, she doesn’t know what to say, he’s getting angrier with every word he says. He violently shoves her back onto the couch and away from him, no longer wanting her on his lap and she knows she is collecting more than bruises today. Bouncing on the leather seat as she lands, she automatically grabs for the cushion she has come to use as a protective blanket and clutches it desperately. Something is seriously wrong here and she can’t hold back the big, ugly, tears because she doesn’t know what else to do.

“I’ve loved you since day one, Jess, and you couldn’t stay well for me? That’s all I wanted from you – for you to love me back and to stay well and happy. Why was that too hard?”

Jess stares in stunned silence and tries to respond, as he storms around pacing the floor in front of her.

“Ade? Please. Stop. Why do you think I did this on purpose, Ade? Do you think I want to feel like this? I miss you so much and I hate that I’m hurting you, it’s killing me. I would do anything to not be hurting you.” She wishes he could see that. She wishes he could see how much she loves him, how hard this is. He stops pacing, stands right in front of her, his hands clenched into fists, tears in his eyes.

“I can’t be around someone with such negative energy. We’re over, Jessica.”

An unnatural wail comes is pulled from Jess as she doubles over, struggling to breathe, her heart shattering as his words sink in. He goes to the bedroom and she listens to him opening and closing the cupboards as he packs his belongings. She doesn’t know what to do except sit there and watch as what little remains of her heart walks out the door with the man she loves.

Hands up who also dislikes Ade :-). You’ll have to read the novel to see Jess find the happiness and love she deserves !

Do No Harm by L V Hay #BlogTour #BookReview

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Do No Harm by L V Hay. Sincere thanks also to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour.


Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…

Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.



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I wanted to read this novel as soon as I saw the cover. Doesn’t it look great and doesn’t it sound menacing? You already expect the exact opposite when you read such an imperative.

This novel was so freaking develish! Do No Harm is a wonderful addictive story about someone’s obsession and the unwillingness of letting go. Obsession and revenge are the best ingredients in any book plot so I was very pleased this novel centers all around these two promising words :-).

It’s obvious that Maxwell, Lily’s ex-husband, can’t get over the fact that they’re not together anymore and that she’s marrying another man, not even a year after they seperated. When strange events start to occur everything points to Maxwell, but the question remains: is he the culprit?

Do No Harm concentrates on 5 characters – if you leave little 6-year old Denny, the sixth main character of the novel, aside – and each character is even more dubious than the next. Do any of them have anything to do with what is happening in Lily and Sebastian’s life? There’s nothing I can share about the plot of this novel, except that it includes a string of red herrings that you’ll walk into with open eyes.

Do No Harm was an exciting and addictive novel to read and L V Hay did a magnificent job with all the characters she created, I couldn’t rely on anyone being honest. An engrossing read that you won’t want to put down!

*** Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour ***


The Distance by Zoë Folbigg #BlogTour #Extract

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Distance by Zoë Folbigg. My thanks also to Melanie Price and publisher Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour.


From the author of the bestselling novel, The Note, comes this beautiful, romantic tale of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he’s about to get married.

Can Cecilie, who’s anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she’s never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he’s on?

Zoe Folbigg’s latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.


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March 2018, Tromsø, Norway

So, ro, lilleman, nå er dagen overSleep tight, little one, now the day is over… Cecilie can’t stop the blasted lullaby from spinning around her head, twinkling like a hanging mobile doing revolutions above a sleeping baby. Alle mus i alle land, ligger nå og sover… The song is rotating calmly and methodically in Cecilie’s brain, distracting her from the couple sitting in front of her as they wait for her to take their order. It is also distancing her from The Thing That’s Happening Today that she’s been dreading for weeks, hoping someone will put a stop to it or change their mind.

The lullaby must have been swirling in Cecilie’s head since she sang it in a quiet corner of the library this morning; to mothers with grey crescent moons clinging to their lower lashlines; to fathers, over the moon to be enjoying their parental leave in a much more relaxed way than they think their partners did. Mothers and fathers and gurglers, all joined in with Cecilie to sing nursery rhymes in the basement of the library, but now those songs and the sweet and happy voices are taunting her.

So, ro, lilleman…

Cecilie thinks of the large print above the fireplace in the living room at home. The room is an elegant haven of greys, browns and whites, dominated by a long, wooden dining table that stands out against the modern touches of the alternate grey and sable plastic Vitra chairs around it. It’s a table where everyone is welcome for heart-to-hearts and hygge at Christmas, although most of the time Cecilie eats breakfast there alone. She likes the grey chairs best and always chooses to sit on one of those while she eats her soda bread smeared with honey and stares out of the window, to the vast and sparse garden beyond. On the white wall above the fireplace hangs a print of a static Alexander Calder mobile that her mother Karin picked up on a trip to London.

‘Isn’t it wonderful, Cecilie?’ she exclaimed, her blue eyes lighting up against the silver of her bobbed hair, as Cecilie’s brother and his boyfriend lifted the black matt frame onto the mantelpiece with a heave.

‘Wonderful,’ concurred Morten, the partner of Cecilie’s twin brother Espen, as he pushed his glasses up his little snub nose. ‘The beauty and intelligence is astounding,’ he added. ‘I just wish I could see it in motion.’

Karin nodded with vigour; Espen had already left the room.

Cecilie looked at the print dreamily, her pale green eyes gazing up at the black Vertical Fern, while it didn’t oscillate as it had in the gallery, or might have done in a breeze. Still, Cecilie imagined herself, fluttering up to the largest of its black fronds to see what it would look like to gaze down at her mother and Morten’s faces from above. Cecilie had a knack for drifting out of position on a whim or a daydream, and seeing the world from above.

Karin, a pragmatist and a politician, found it hard to understand her otherworldly daughter.

‘Cecilie?’ Karin had urged.

Cecilie crinkled her nose and snapped back into the room with a blink.

‘It’s wonderful, Mamma,’ she agreed, although she couldn’t fathom why her mother had bought an inanimate print of something that ought to be in gentle movement. It seemed so unlike her. Karin Wiig was the least static person Cecilie knew.

‘Well yes,’ confirmed Karin with authority. ‘They were just so stunning, you really ought to go to London and see them in motion before the exhibition ends,’ she said with a wave of her hand, although everyone knew she was really only talking to Morten. Even if Espen had still been in the room to hear, he was too wrapped up in his life at the i-Scand hotel on the harbour to bother with the inconvenience of a weekend break, and Cecilie had never travelled to a latitude below Oslo, which was something a diplomat and an adventurer like Karin couldn’t understand.

‘Why is your sister so happy to stay in one place?’ she once asked Espen in despair.

‘Perhaps Cecilie’s daydreams take her to better places than a flight ever could, Mamma,’ Espen had replied.

So, ro, lilleman…

The flash of the frond in her mind awakens Cecilie and she wriggles her inert feet inside her black Dr Martens boots. The lullaby evaporates and disappears, and Cecilie is back with the couple sitting in front of her, at their usual table.

‘Pickle, are you all right?’ asks Gjertrud, her kindly weathered face looking up at Cecilie. ‘It’s just Ole asked you three times for the spiced Arctic cloudberry cake, but you seem a little… in the clouds yourself today, my dear.’

‘Oh, I’m so sorry, so much to think about…’ Cecilie replies, as she writes cloudberry onto a pad in a wisp of ink.


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Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. She is the bestselling author of The Note.


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#Giveaway of The Accusation by Zosia Wand #BlogTour @zosiawand @aria_fiction

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Accusation by Zosia Wand. My thanks also to Melanie Price and Aria/Head of Zeus for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have a free copy of this novel as a giveaway but first, let’s see what this novel is about, shall we?


Who would you choose if you had to – your daughter or your husband?

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…


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Wand Zosia

Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.




Aria fiction is giving away a free digital copy of this novel! Competition open internationally. You have until Sunday 24 June at noon to enter!

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The Cathy Connolly Series by Sam Blake #BlogTour #Guestpost @samblakebooks @BonnierZaffre

Cathy Connolly trilogy

Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour celebrating the release of the third in the Cathy Connolly series of books by Sam Blake, No Turning Back. My thanks to Imogen Sebba from publisher Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to join the tour. I have a guestpost for you today that I’m happy to share, after telling you a little bit more about this new novel:

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Even perfect families have secrets . . .

Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run.

Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?

As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .

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I read the first novel of the series, the brilliant Little Bones and in case you’re interested you can read my review here.


Reasons for writing under a pen name

A pen name is a wonderful thing for a writer because, for me at least, it’s like becoming a character in your own story. I have a very busy career in publishing running the website and a publishing consultancy, Inkwell, so in my own name Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, I’m quite well known (to writers in Ireland at least.) Being Sam Blake means that I can park all the busy business stuff and focus on my writing. It’s probably more of a state of mind than anything but it helps me hugely in clearing my head!

There are many significantly more practical reasons for having a pen name though. My own name is incredibly long and would be a real squash on a cover – my married name is O’Loughlin and there are two Vanessa O’Loughlin’s in Dublin – the other one is a journalist so there is already some confusion between us. She used to write amazing travel pieces before she became a newspaper editor and people were often coming up to me saying how much they’d enjoyed my article about kayaking in the Amazon (yikes).

The other issue with my name is that O’Loughlin is great in Ireland but outside of the country no one knows how to pronounce it (the gh is a hard K sound). It’s key, when you’re doing promotion for a book and on radio or TV, that people can remember your name long enough to go and buy it. With a name like my real one, they’d probably remember my Christian name but not much more. There are many hilarious stories of people wandering into bookshops looking for all sorts of vague things – ‘that book with the blue cover’, ‘that crime book by that girl Vanessa about Ireland…’ – booksellers are incredibly patient people but they can live without authors with tricky names!

Another key reason for using a pen name in crime, is that there is a theory that men don’t buy books written by women. Every time I say this, I think it sounds totally ridiculous but there’s always a man (or a woman) nodding at the back who knows someone for whom this is true!

It can be tricky having a pen name though, as you have to remember who you are – people who only know me as Sam call me that, and I sometimes feel like a bit of an imposter (actually a lot of the time, I think that’s a feature of being a writer!) but one of the huge benefits of having a pen name is that you get to choose it. William Blake is my favourite poet – so that’s where the surname came from, and my son is a Sam too. What I love about the name Sam Blake is that it sounds like a name you’ve heard of (even if you haven’t!) so people nod when I’m introduced like they should remember what I’ve written but can’t. It’s a conversation starter and like all writers I’m incredibly curious and I love talking to people.


Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. She has been writing fiction since 1999 when her husband went sailing across the Atlantic for 8 weeks and she had an idea for a book.

Vanessa is also the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Irish national writing resources website She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication.


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